The Journal of the North American Japanese Garden Association (Issue 3) Now Available

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The third issue of The Journal of the North American Japanese Garden Association  (NAJGA) is now available in print.  The Journal is FREE to members and also available for purchase by members who wish to get additional copies and to the general public.

Member Price: $16.00 (within US), $20.00 (Canada, Japan and other countries)         General Public: $20.00 (within US), $25.00 (Canada, Japan and other countries).   Prices include postage. To order, send an e-mail to info@najga.org.

From NAJGA Journal 3 Editor K.T. Cannon-Eger:

EDITOR’S MESSAGE: New Pathways Toward a Healthier World

“The first issue of the Journal of the North American Japanese Garden Association concentrated on “Connections,” the theme of the first biennial convention held in Denver in 2012. Journal two was organized around the theme of “Lessons Learned.” Following the 2014 biennial convention in Chicago, Illinois, and with an eye toward the 2016 conference in Delray Beach Florida, this issue was organized around the theme of “New Pathways Toward a Healthier World.”

The initial hope of the first Journal to encourage landscape specialists and enthusiasts to explore articles outside their immediate areas of interest continues in this issue while we maintain a dedication to the NAJGA goals of advancement in Horticulture, Human Culture, and Business Culture.

In horticulture, we draw on one of the stalwarts of NAJGA, a garden designer and gentle speaker on the benefits to human well-being of Japanese-style landscapes. His remarks are followed by a case study of a hospital in Oregon. Delving further into horticulture, is an article on moss and its uses in gardens in Japan and around the world. This is accompanied by an excerpt from a new book of short stories, one of which speaks to remediation by moss.

Connecting several gardens is the human culture question of how gardens attract volunteers, how the volunteers are trained, and how their interest is maintained.

The business culture portion of this issue tackles two subjects. First, how do public gardens attract visitors and maintain their interest? Second, how do public gardens prepare to handle crises such as fire, flood, or storm damage?

Articles of historical interest, a book review, and obituaries round out the contents of Journal number three.

I am full of gratitude for the guidance and direction of the Board of Directors Past President and first Journal Editor Kendall H. Brown, whose knowledge and dedication are above and beyond. He has skillfully taken editorial scalpel to overly long manuscripts. His artistic sensibility and devotion to history are among other great assets to the organization and to this Journal. This issue could not have happened without the work of the editorial board. Thank you Dr. Seiko Goto, Ben Chu, and Edzard Teubert. And a great big tip of the hat to Grace Roxas Morrissey of NAJGA who keeps us all on track. Deep gratitude to all the authors, photographers, and graphic artists who have contributed their talents. Readers will find more information about the authors on a subsequent page. Welcome to Brian Pendleton of Vancouver, B.C. who is taking on editorial responsibilities for the next issue.”

Here’s a look at the Table of Contents:

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The Journal of the North American Japanese Garden Association (Issue 3) Now Available

Finding A Place For Moss In the Japanese Gardens of North America

The North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) recently talked moss with  Al Benner, a NAJGA member and owner of Moss Acres, a company that specializes in the use of moss for gardening.   

NAJGA: What are your general observations about moss gardening interest in North America over the past few years? 

AB: I would say the interest level continues to grow.  Moss was originally looked upon as an “invader”  something growing where grass was supposed to be growing.  Actually moss has been around for over 500 million years, and the 15,000+ species worldwide each have conditions that best suit their individual needs.  Some species like shade, others prefer full sun.  Some like it wet, others drier.  They all need moisture at some point in time to grow.  They have no true roots, so all moisture is absorbed through the leaves.   Moss has more recently received considerable press coverage as being an environmentally sustainable choice for many locations and conditions.  If moss is growing somewhere on it’s own it is for good reason – it likes that location.

NAJGA: How did your company get started in moss gardening?

Al with moss milkshakeAB: My father, Dave Benner began experimenting with moss lawns and garden areas on his 2-acre wooded, hillside gardens in Bucks County, Pennsylvania back in the early 1960’s.  In 2000, I started Moss Acres as a national mail order company to fill an unmet need as the first supplier of live moss in large quantities.  We ship our mosses to home gardeners and landscape professionals who are  looking for an alternative ground cover for shady garden areas.

NAJGA: Which moss varieties do you carry that are the most popular or highly recommended for Japanese-style gardens? 

AB: Although moss gardens in Japan may have many different species of mosses the primary species that moss gardens in Japan use: haircap, pincushion and rock cap (broom) are three of the five species that Moss Acres provides. The other two species (sheet moss and fern moss) that Moss Acres offers are also popular in Japan.  Moss Acres offers these varieties because not only are they traditional varieties utilized for centuries in Japan, but they are also “generalists” that grow well in a variety of settings provided there is adequate shade and moisture.

Are there public Japanese gardens which feature your mosses? 

Garden of the Phoenix MossAB: The Garden of the Phoenix on Jackson Park in Chicago and this  spring, the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Philadelphia. Both are establishing new moss gardens. The moss garden in the Garden of the Phoenix was started last October as part of the NAJGA skills development workshop prior to the 2014 NAJGA convention. This moss garden will be expanded this year and then be on display for the 2015 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) convention in November in Chicago.

One thing that really surprises us is that the most popular moss in the gardens of Japan, haircap moss or Polytrichum commune, are rarely found in the Japanese gardens in the United States. Yet haircap is easy to grow and in many states is a very common native plant.

Polytrichum commune in bluestone patio at Moss AcresCheck out this picture of haircap moss growing among the bluestone pavers at Moss Acres. Over time the haircap has naturalized among the pavers. This would be an easy way for any Japanese garden to introduce haircap moss into their Japanese garden.  It can also tolerate quite a bit of sun, as it has root-like structures called rhizoids that penetrate several inches into the soil.

NAJGA: How about residential garden owners? Are they also incorporating moss as part of their private, Japanese-style gardens? 

AB: I would say they are all over the map here.  Most of the projects are smaller in scope and usually deal with creating a smaller naturalized garden in a small grotto area.  Stone and/or water features and ferns are often incorporated.  Utilizing sheet mosses, like hypnum is very common in between pavers for walkways.  The sheet mosses can handle a fair amount of foot traffic so they work well for this application.  There are a handful of private, Japanese style gardens out there that incorporate moss, but they are few and far between.

NAJGA: What services can you offer your customers aside from providing the moss materials for their garden?

We provide a lot of online and phone support for folks getting started with moss.  Our website at www.MossAcres.com is also a great resource for information on all aspects of moss gardening.

Currently we are exploring several green wall projects utilizing moss that plan to be installed during the spring of 2015.  We accomplish this by taking moss that is grown from fragments onto synthetic geotextile mats and installing them vertically with drip lines as living moss walls.  Our tests of this process over the past two years have been very encouraging and we are now ready for some installations to go in.  We also have had several moss roofs installed though the years and are experimenting with other mediums for this application that allow for significant water holding capabilities.

Finding A Place For Moss In the Japanese Gardens of North America